The generation and resemblance heuristics in face recognition: Cooperation and competition

Heather M. Kleider, Stephen Goldinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Like all probabilistic decisions, recognition memory judgments are based on inferences about the strength and quality of stimulus familiarity. In recent articles, B. W. A. Whittlesea and J. Leboe (2000; J. Leboe & B. W. A. Whittlesea, 2002) proposed that such memory decisions entail various heuristics, similar to well-known heuristics in overt decision making. Using verbal stimulus materials, Whittlesea and Leboe illustrated 3 separate memory heuristics: fluency, generation, and resemblance. In the present investigation, the authors examined the generation and resemblance heuristics in face recognition. In 12 experiments, people memorized faces and later performed exclusion (source memory) tasks. Every experiment contained natural groups of facial photographs (e.g., Caucasian vs. Asian faces), but such groups were not always valid source-memory predictors. Instead, across experiments, the potential utility of generation and resemblance strategies was systematically varied. People were quite sensitive to such variations, changing from one heuristic to another as needed. However, they also combined heuristics, both improving and damaging performance across conditions. The relevance of recognition decision heuristics to eyewitness memory is considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-276
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Face recognition
  • Generation
  • Heuristics
  • Recognition memory
  • Resemblance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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